12-16 Challis Ave, Potts Point
This all goes to show that sometimes, a good dining experience can be the result of fate. Apparently, one of our group was at work when he met a customer from Sydney. This person frequented a place called Cafe Sopra in Potts Point which he highly recommended. We were up for some Italian food and thought we'd take up on this suggestion when I found out that Cafe Sopra doesn't open for dinner.
However, there was a restaurant nearby called Fratelli Paradiso that had rave reviews in several magazines and newspapers (SMH, Gourmet Traveller) so I was really keen to give it a go.
It was another rainy day and we parked down the road. Walking along Challis Ave, we nearly missed the restaurant all together. To this day, I still don't know if they have any sign indication who they are. All I saw was a black entrance way lined with tables... but no actual "Fratelli Paradiso" written ANYWHERE. It could just be me though - my poor eyesight. Hey, it was dark and rainy.
We stood at this doorway for a while before I asked a waiter what the place was called and we realized it was where we were supposed to be. The first room was very full but luckily for us, they have a side room. We had that room to ourselves for a while but by the time our dishes came, it was full too.
Fratelli Paradiso is... unique. I have a limited experience with dining and I've never been to a place like this. Aside from the fact that it did not need to announce who it was, the restaurant does not have an actual paper menu. Rather, what I thought was bold graffiti wallpaper behind me turned out to be the menu.
The lettering was hard to decipher and the items we could actually read didn't make much sense. After we ordered drinks (bottle of red for the table), a waiter came and translated the menu for us. Thank goodness. This is the norm for this restaurant because I heard him do the same for every other table in our room.
There are about 4-5 entrees and mains to choose from. We ordered the calamari and antipasto platter to share as entrees, plus a main each. I chose the seafood spaghetti while Charlie went for the lamb rigatoni.
We had complimentary bread to start off with - I think they were mini ciabatta rolls but I'm not sure. They came with olive oil and salt flakes. Simple but very tasty.
The entrees arrived first. I had read amazing feedback about the calamari so I had high expectations. It didn't disappoint - the calamari was tender and crisp without seeming at all oily. The antipasto platter was minimal but the quality of meat was excellent. In particular, I was very fond of the bresola.
My seafood spaghetti was very different to any I've tried before, in a good way. There were tiny pieces of broccoli in the sauce that added a nice texture. The flavor was light and fresh.
Charlie loved the lamb rigatoni but while I thought it was nice, I prefer a saucier pasta. This one was more dry and focused on the texture of the lamb.
I'm not sure what this dish was but it was an entree option, ordered as a main.
I was told the lamb rack was tender and it was given a thumbs up.
We didn't opt for dessert but overall, I had a wonderful time at Fratelli Paradiso. The whole experience was charming and the food seemed very authentic. I normally hate dark lighting in a restaurant but in this case, combined with the other eccentricities, I thought it created an interesting atmosphere to dine in.